Just a few short months ago we were all blissfully unaware of the oncoming pandemic issues that have since turned life as we knew it temporarily upside-down. Like many others, this time of uncertainty and social distancing has pushed me to reevaluate and refocus my daily tasks and priorities. It is my hope that if there is a silver lining to all of this, it is a refreshed appreciation for the simple things in life.
Many of us (excluding the hard-working parents who are now homeschool teachers) are finding ourselves with plenty of extra time these days. COVID-19 has affected our daily schedules and abilities to do the simple things like visit with friends and family, grocery shop and play sports. However, with a fresh reevaluated perspective we can use this time to get creative while remaining active in the outdoors.
Here are just a few ways I am social distancing myself that are improving both my physical and mental health.
When it comes to getting a fresh perspective while working in some exercise, it’s hard to beat a nice hike to really clear the mind. There are countless public trails you can find by running a simple google search to see what is nearby, and most trail listings will provide the level of difficulty and the distance of each hike making it easier to plan.
The weather is getting nicer and the woods, meadows and fields don’t yet have a lot of new growth, providing a great opportunity to get outside and search for some sheds. In recent years shed hunting has grown in popularity and is a fun activity to do outside while also giving you a rough inventory of any deer that made it through the season.
Turkey season is hands down my favorite season of the year. It is also a great way to introduce beginners and youth into the sport of hunting. Turkey hunting is interactive and allows you to be physically active—every year turkey hunting gets me in the best shape of my life as I am typically able to get a couple miles of walking in before work every day until I tag out.
Turkey season doesn’t begin until May 1 in New York, which leaves me with plenty of time to get outside and scout. For me, scouting consists of hiking through the woods listening for gobbles or searching for scratches, dusting areas and tracks.
Fishing is another one of my favorite outdoor activities. I am constantly fascinated by the amount of life that thrives in the underwater habitat that many of us never get to see, and fishing gives us a glimpse into these areas that are otherwise unexplored by us land-dwelling mammals! Be sure to check your state’s regulations to be sure of what fish are currently in season.
It’s that time of year when plants are starting to grow and flowers are beginning to bloom, which means you can forage for all sorts of delicious food. Ramps, leaks, wild strawberries, ginseng, and mushrooms are all delicious, and most can be plentiful depending on where you are from and the local habitat.
Want to get your entire family involved in a fun activity? Set up a scavenger hunt! Nature makes it easy and fun—all you must do is create the search list! An example of these items can be moss, mushrooms, turkey feather, a flat rock, a pinecone, something colorful, a maple leaf, etc. The possibilities are endless and are only limited by your imagination. Not only is this a fun activity but it teaches you to pay close attention to detail and your surroundings.
The more time I spend in the outdoors, the more it makes me appreciate our planet and environment– after all, this is the only one we get. As an outdoorsman and conservationist, I believe that we must take care of our planet and leave places better than when we found them, which means picking up garbage and debris that we may find during our outdoor adventures. This is something that can easily be turned into a family affair while out enjoying a nice hike and sets a great example for the future generation of outdoorsman and women.
No matter what outdoor activity I am participating in, safety is always a prime concern, which is why I always carry. Carrying a firearm while out on my own makes me feel safer. Whether I am running the back-country roads, hiking the woods, or at the boat launch, I feel safe knowing I have backup if, heaven forbid, I ever need it. Depending on my activity, my outdoor companion is usually either a Glock 42 or M&P Shield 2.0 paired with Winchester Train & Defend Ammunition. But before you decide to carry it is imperative to take a concealed carry course and then make darn sure you practice, practice, practice, even after you get your certificate. Your certificate alone does not mean you’ll be proficient when it comes to defending yourself. Instruction and practice are the keys to putting it to use should you ever need to.
About the Author: Nikki Boxler grew up on a large dairy farm in western New York and continues to reside there today. This setting has shaped her love for the outdoors and is how she developed a passion that drives her to spend as much time as possible hunting and fishing. Nikki credits her father for introducing her to hunting while she was young. “One of the biggest reasons I fell in love with hunting was the camaraderie and the bond I experienced between fellow hunters. I vividly remember how special it was when we would all gather and grill venison after a successful day of hunting,” she says. Nikki balances her time in the outdoors between a full-time marketing job and helping on the family farm. With so much on her plate, she is sincerely grateful for her time to match wits with a big gobbler or on the water casting for Muskie. She enjoys all types of hunting and shooting sports from archery to skeet shooting, and hopes to inspire and educate youth to become more involved in the shooting sports.